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Gang like a rugby club: lawyer

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 4 days ago
The Head Hunters gang insignia © Hannah Peters/Getty Images The Head Hunters gang insignia

A lawyer has likened the Head Hunters gang to a rugby club as defence counsel took issue with the Crown's case against nine men facing a raft of charges, including kidnapping a wealthy businessman and his handyman.

On trial in the High Court at Rotorua are Benjamin Paul Dwyer, 28, Stephen William Daly, 33, Jordan Alexander Christian, 21, David Peter Clark, 36, Brent Anthony Gunning, 37, Liam John Kane, 24, Matthew John McDonnell, 45, Stacy Walton Dennis Paora, 29, and Sam Wiremu Rolleston 23.

On Wednesday, John Moroney disputed Clark's involvement in the three charges he faces - kidnapping the businessman, aggravated robbery of $7000 and participating in an organised group to extort money from him by using violence or threats of violence.

He said there was no argument that Clark was at Taupo with the co-defendants and the businessman but he hadn't been at other locations where the Crown claims the major offence occurred.

While Clark was a Head Hunters gang member, that was no different to belonging to a rugby club, Moroney said.

The businessman had not identified who it was he'd slipped $7000 to under a table after withdrawing it from a Taupo bank.

Daly's lawyer, Maria Pecotic, said her client, who faces 12 charges, got involved only when the businessman tried to resolve a dispute.

"This is not a case where he says he wasn't there, `it's not me', he doesn't dispute that - but he was asked by [the businessman] to become involved to settle this dispute," she said.

Splitting the money withdrawn in Taupo was part of the strategy to smooth things over after a liaison on a launch with Dwyer's partner went horribly wrong.

She said a doctor hadn't found any evidence of teaspoons being pushed under the eyelids of the handyman or anything consistent with his claim he'd been choked.

Arguing Kane's case, Rebekah Webby said no CCTV footage of him had been produced and he'd not been identified at any of the places where the offending allegedly occurred.

She said a cellphone, used to link evidence to him, could have been used by others.

Attacking the businessman's conduct while allegedly kidnapped, Christian's lawyer, Max Simpkins, asked what abduction victim smoked P with his captors, swam with them, was permitted to mix freely with members of the public, went to cafes within 100 metres of a police station or were let out of their sight.

For Rolleston, Bill Nabney said there was nothing to link him to a Mt Maunganui storage shed, the trip from there to Rotorua and a Rotorua house, other than the maintenance man's contention Rolleston was at each.

Referring to charges relating to the businessman, Mr Nabney said it wasn't disputed Rolleston was at the man's farm in the Taupo region, but there was no evidence he'd been inside the house or knew of any assaults there.

The businessman hadn't been able to say whether Rolleston was at his lake retreat when he was attacked there, or in his Audi which his captors forced him to drive to the rural property.

Paora's lawyer, Ron Mansfield, likened the Crown's case to the broken, single strand of a spider's web.

He said that strand was a detective's evidence that Paora's voice was the most distinctive she'd ever heard, making it instantly recognisable when she monitored cellphone calls relating to the trial.

"It is clear he was never involved," he said.

"It was only his voice identification that caused him to be arrested very late in the piece."

He said Paora's only involvement was being drawn reluctantly into the offending's "clean up" by dropping the maintenance man home after his kidnapping was over.

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